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Socio-emotional learning through sport: Magic Bus at EMPOWER 2014


Socio-emotional learning through sport: Magic Bus at EMPOWER 2014

EMPOWER 2014 participants had the opportunity to get a taster of how Magic Bus runs its programmes in India by participating in a session focused on managing emotions.

Offsite activities formed the main part of day three of Reach Out To Asia’s EMPOWER 2014 conference as participants headed to Doha's Aspire Zone and were able to take part in three of the nine short sport sessions on offer. Magic Bus, a frontrunner in the sport and development sector, was one of the organisations involved.

Magic Bus showed how sport can be used to address one of the organisation's five impact areas – “socio emotional learning”. After some ice breakers, the groups played “touchdown handball”, a game where teams pass the ball among themselves with the overall objective of touching the ball down on their opponent’s line.

Learning to manage emotions

There was no referee during the game, with the players responsible for keeping score, penalising unfair play and resolving disputes. The reason for this gets to the heart of Magic Bus’s socio-emotional learning curriculum. Playing sport can lead to strong emotions, both positive and negative. Without the presence of a referee, participants need to confront those emotions, find a resolution and manage the way they behave.

Emotions experienced on the sport field can mirror those felt in everyday life. People experience conflict or anger at school, at work and at home: by learning to deal with these situations and manage emotions in a controlled environment, difficult day-to-day situations can become less challenging.

The relationship between sport and everyday life

The final activity brought the group together to discuss the game and situations that arose. Participants highlighted a range of situations which caused conflict or anger, and skills, such as teamwork, communication and negotiation, which were needed to navigate these potential flash points. As is a central component of Magic Bus programmes, the facilitator then related the activity to participant’s daily lives, highlighting the need to manage emotions and negotiate – both on and off the sports field.

Similar principles are applied to addressing Magic Bus's other four impact areas (health, formal education, gender and right to play). Being only one hour long, some elements of a typical Magic Bus session needed to be shortened or left out. Nonetheless, it provided an insight into some of the key concepts and methodologies that drive the organisation’s work in India.


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Paul Hunt


Saturday, March 29, 2014 - 23:00